The strict guidelines to qualify for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy mean that some people qualify only to file Chapter 13. The requirements for counseling and proof of income are the same for both types of bankruptcy. Although you must take the same means test, the outcome leads to different results.

Chapter 13 differs from Chapter 7 in that, after establishing your income and deducting allowable expenses, you must use the remainder of your excess monthly income to repay your debt. Excess is defined by subtracting the IRS allowable expenses from your income.

Just as with Chapter 7, those filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy must establish that their family income is either below or above the median for their state. If your total income is above the state median, your excess income gets disposed of (paid to your bankruptcy trustee) for the next five years, unless you show that you can pay off 100 percent of the debt in less than 60 months.

If your total income is below the state median, your excess income may be paid to your creditors over the next three years. The rest of the debt that you owe to your creditors goes unpaid, and no interest accrues on any of the accounts involved.

The current bankruptcy law is intended to require those who can afford to make payments toward their debt to do so.